September 22, 2021
A Complete Guide to Safely Re-Lighting Your Furnace
So, your furnace’s pilot light went out again. Don’t worry; you’re not alone. During the fall and winter months, it’s no secret that furnaces are much more likely to act up since it’s the time of the year when they are being used the most.
When this happens, your pilot light (that’s the same blue flame that lights the natural gas coming from your unit’s main burner) may go out, literally leaving you and your family in the cold with no heat and the thermostat turned up. In fact, this is one of the most common problems that furnaces encounter, especially if your unit is already more than a few years old.
Luckily, learning how to light a furnace light is a simple matter and a handy skill to have. But to give you more background and knowledge, here’s what you need to know about your pilot light, a few reasons why it would go out, and how you can safely relight it.
What Is the Pilot Light’s Purpose?
If you have an older furnace that still runs on natural gas, it’s usually equipped with a pilot light. Whenever your furnace turns the heat on in your home, the gas released through a valve comes into contact with the pilot light, therefore producing heat.
Reasons Why the Pilot Light Would Go Out
There are a few reasons as to why your pilot light may go out. Some causes can easily be fixed within a few minutes, while others are a bit more involved. Here are common reasons behind a diffused pilot light in your furnace.
Your Gas Is Shut Off
Because your pilot light relies on natural gas to stay aflame, shutting your gas off will also make your pilot light go out. Luckily, this simple matter can be solved by turning your gas back on and re-lighting the pilot light yourself.
Sometimes, the slightest breeze can blow out your pilot light. If this is the case, you can easily re-light the pilot light yourself or ask someone who knows how to do it, like a professional.
Usually, airflow issues happen if one of your ducts is leaking air. This can also occur if your flue or chimney is damaged or if it’s not sized correctly to match the needs of your furnace. In such cases, you can call for a professional to look at your unit.
Your Thermocouple Is Loose
Another reason behind your pilot light going out may be a loose or faulty thermocouple. If this is the case, then you either need to tighten or completely replace your furnace’s thermocouple, especially if it’s already a few years old at this point.
Your Furnace Is Dirty
Sometimes, dirt and dust buildup can clog the pilot orifice, which is the small opening in your gas pipe that fuels the pilot light. When this happens, it can affect how well your pilot light burns, and if it ends up going out, it could be that it isn’t able to get enough fuel to sustain itself through the orifice. A good indicator of this is the color of your pilot light. Ideally, it should be bright blue, so a red or yellow flame indicates that the pilot light is no longer capable of getting enough fuel.
In such cases, you may contact us at Buehler Air Conditioning to have one of our professionals look over your unit and conduct preventative maintenance and cleanup. Through this, you can keep your unit running at peak efficiency while also reducing the wear and tear on its components and increasing its overall lifespan.
How to Re-Light Your Furnace
Step 1: Turn Off Your Furnace
Start by turning off your furnace and waiting for a couple of minutes. Remember to never adjust anything on or in your furnace while it’s still running. This ensures your safety while working on the furnace.
Step 2: Read the Manufacturer’s Instructions
Usually, furnaces have a prominent label that includes instructions for re-lighting the pilot light. If you can’t find the label, check the manual that came with the unit or search for relevant information on the manufacturer’s website.
Step 3: Locate the Gas Valve
If you have the unit instructions, then chances are you already know where the pilot light and gas valve is located. Otherwise, you can check near the bottom of the furnace for either a switch or a knob. Usually, you should find three indicators: pilot, on, and off. Turn the knob to the “pilot” position.
Step 4: Hold Down the Reset Button
Afterward, locate the reset button, which is usually the color red. Holding down this button should push the gas to your pilot light. Depending on what type of furnace you have, the pilot light will either be automatic or manual.
Usually, automatic pilot lights can be reignited by simply pushing down the reset button. A manual one, on the other hand, requires an external flame source, like a long-handled match.
Step 5: Light the Pilot Light
For manual pilot lights, go ahead and hold your external flame source over the orifice while holding down the reset button for at least 60 seconds. Then, let go of the control slowly and carefully. Your pilot light should stay lit. If it doesn’t, it’s best to call a professional to assess the situation and find out if your furnace has another problem.
Step 6: Turn Your Gas and Furnace Back On
If the pilot light burns steadily, turn the gas valve knob/switch back to the “on” position. Don’t forget to do this as your pilot light won’t stay lit if you neglect this step. The furnace should start automatically. If not, then you go ahead and manually restart the furnace.
Step 7: Observe the Furnace
Lastly, take a few minutes to observe the furnace and check that everything works correctly. Observe the pilot light as well to make sure that it stays lit. You may also check the surrounding areas for drafts or possible air sources that can be affecting your furnace’s pilot light. If everything seems fine, then congratulations! You have just successfully reignited your pilot light and learned a helpful life skill along the way.
When to Call a Professional
If you cannot re-light your furnace’s pilot light or if you are uncomfortable performing the steps above on your own, then don’t hesitate to contact us over at Buehler Air Conditioning today. Not everyone is a trained technician, and that’s okay! This is why our experienced team at Buehler Air Conditioning is here to help you navigate all your furnace woes.
Other than furnace maintenance and reigniting pesky pilot lights, we also offer heating repair and installation, cooling, duct, and indoor air quality services in Jacksonville and the surrounding area. This means that whether your AC needs repairs, your heat pump needs maintenance, or you need a new air purifier system to improve your home’s indoor air quality, our certified technicians are always available to assist.
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